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Mal’s wee little problem

Mal, a gorgeous nine year old male ginger cat, came to see us at Moe Vet Centre as he was having trouble going to the toilet.   As you can imagine Mal was quite uncomfortable.  After having a thorough exam Mal was found to be “blocked”.  This means that something was blocking his urethra and stopping him from being able to pass urine from his bladder.  This is a life threatening problem so Mal was admitted straight into the hospital. He was given a general anaesthetic and a catheter was passed down his urethra to relieve the blockage.  He was also placed on an intravenous drip so that fluids and medications could be given intravenously.  A urine sample was taken once Mal’s bladder was unblocked and it was found to have crystals in it.  This is called crystalluria.  These crystals cause the blockage in male cats as their urethra is much narrower than in female cats.  Once the catheter was passed Mal’s bladder was flushed with saline to remove as many crystals as possible from his bladder.

Once crystals are discovered in a urine sample, the type of crystals can often be diagnosed by microscopic examination at Moe Vet Centre.  In Mal’s case the crystals were sent to the laboratory for analysis. The reason that Mal’s crystals were difficult to identify became clear; Mal had two crystal types in one, which is unusual. There are special diets that can be given to cats to reduce the amount of crystals they form depending on the type of crystal, so in each case it is important to find out what kind of crystal is being produced in the urine.

Struvite crystals   Calcium oxalate crystals

Struvite crystals under a microscope                Calcium oxalate crystals under a microscope

Mal stayed in hospital with us so that he could remain on an intravenous fluid drip and ensure that he could urinate on his own without the help of a catheter.  This is where poor Mal ran into more trouble.  He was producing large amounts of very big crystals and was unable to pass them without the help of a catheter.  As Mal had an unusually severe case of crystalluria and he was unable to be treated medically, it was decided that we needed to go a step further to help fix the problem. The next step in his case was a surgical procedure.  The surgery performed on Mal is called a perineal urethrostomy.  This means that Mal’s urethra is incised along its length until a wider part is reached.  At this point the urethra is wide enough for the crystals to pass through without causing a blockage.  The urethra is then sutured to the skin creating a new stoma (hole) for Mal to urinate out of.

Mal stayed in hospital after his surgery for a few days to receive more intravenous fluids and, very importantly, pain relief to keep him comfortable.  He was then allowed to go home but had to wear a plastic Elizabethan collar so that he didn’t lick and traumatise his surgery site.  Mal then just had one more hurdle to go. He came in ten days after his surgery to have a very light anaesthetic and have his sutures removed.  After Mal returned home he was very happy to have his plastic collar off so that his other feline friends at home could recognise who he was and give him an appropriate welcome.

Mal was unlucky to have such a severe blockage that required surgery but we are pleased to say that he has recovered well.

Mal-001 website     Mal-002 website

Mal enjoying being out and about at home.

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